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Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, and floods can be devastating for homeowners. They can cause significant damage to properties and disrupt the lives of individuals and families. Last year, major natural disasters accounted for $165 billion dollars in damages here in the United States.
If you are a homeowner who has experienced the destruction or damage caused by a natural disaster, it is essential to act quickly to ensure your safety and that of your loved ones. In this article, we will provide some tips on what to do after a natural disaster has damaged or destroyed your home.
Safety First. Safety is your top priority after a natural disaster. If your home has been severely damaged, it is important to leave immediately and find temporary shelter by staying with friends or family or at a nearby hotel. If you are unable to leave your home, ensure that you are in a safe area away from any hazards such as fallen trees or power lines.
Contact Your Insurance Company. Once you are safe, contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the damage. Your insurance company will provide you with guidance on what steps to take next and what documentation you need to submit to begin your claim.
Document the Damage. Documenting the damage to your home is crucial once you are allowed to return to your home. Take photos and videos of the damage and create a list of all the items that have been damaged or destroyed (including vehicles, jewelry, etc.). This will help you when filing an insurance claim and will also be useful if you need to apply for disaster assistance.
Secure Your Property. If your home has been damaged, safely secure your property to prevent further damage. Cover any broken windows or holes in the roof with tarps or plywood. Remove any debris that could cause further damage or harm to your family or neighbors.
Stop all Utilities. If you are unable to return to your home, contact your utility company to stop service for things like electricity, gas, water, cable, and internet.
Contact Your Mortgage Lender. You will need to contact your mortgage lender and explore options for your mortgage payments until your claim is processed through your homeowner’s insurance provider.
Apply for Disaster Assistance. If you live in an area that has been declared a disaster zone, you may be eligible for disaster assistance. Contact FEMA or your local emergency management agency to find out what kind of assistance is available. You may be eligible for temporary housing, financial assistance, or low-interest loans or grants to help you rebuild your home.
The most important thing is to remain patient. Processing insurance claims and rebuilding will take time. You will want to take the steps to ensure that you and your family remain safe and that the damage is reported quickly to your insurance company so you can begin the process of rebuilding.
It is also a good reminder to review your insurance policy annually. Disasters such as floods and earthquakes may not be covered by your current policy. If you live in an area that may be prone to events such as wildfires and flooding, contact your insurance provider to discuss your options for coverage.
Equal Housing Opportunity. Axia Home Loans is a registered tradename of Axia Financial, LLC. NMLS 27830.